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Up The Creek: Adventures In Canine Canoeing Part 3

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Thunder storms, and wolf poop, and bears, oh my! Kevin Roberts and crew encounter rain, dangerous animals and… poop. It’s all in the name of fun and excitement for these outdoor adventurers.

We wake up to an alarm clock of birds singing in the forest.   As I unzip the tent, the dogs pour out.  I walk them to the spot we have been using for their bathroom. We pick a spot far back from the cooking and eating area, and as far away from the water as well. Any solid mess they make, we scoop up and take away with us.

The sky today is darker than yesterday… uh-oh.  I assemble the stove and begin to cook up the oatmeal just as the first drops of rain begin to fall. We set a new record for packing camp and feeding the dogs, and just as we are about to load the canoe, the sky opens and the rain just POURS!

Yep – it’s going to be a wet day.

No worries – we are all fairly waterproof (like I said in a previous article, we have done this before) and the August weather is still warm. We begin to paddle down the lake, toward other campsites.  The dogs don’t seem to enjoy the rain very much, but I would rather be a little damp than sunburned!

We continue to paddle, keeping our spirits up and being optimistic. The weather report said sunny with a chance of clouds, so this can’t last!  I hear thunder in the distance… I think. I justify that it can’t be thunder. It must be logging trucks. So, we keep paddling. We hear more thunder.  Oh, maybe that one was thunder, but it’s far away. River begins to look concerned. Thunder is one of the only things that scares this dog – well, thunder, and having to face a hairbrush.  She would rather chase off a bear than have her hair brushed. Crazy dog.

We paddle closer to shore and check out the sky. The storm is going to blow across our path, so it should pass. We decide to paddle on a bit more and see if we can beat the storm. Coming to a narrow park in the lake, the thunder roars closer. The rain is pouring down in sheets and our visibility is quite impaired.

canoeing-with-dogs-p-3-1Ahead of us, there is something in the water.  We slow the boat, on high alert, and we can see a baby bear swimming across the water, in front of the canoe! Baby bears are mighty cute, but they seldom stray far from their mothers.  The dogs notice the bear cub as well, and stare intently. We come to a dead stop and begin to make noise, banging our paddles and shouting, trying to scare the bear away.  The cub begins to paddle faster.  Once it reaches the far shore, we dig in and paddle like we are in the Olympics. We want as much space between the baby bear and his mother as possible!

The adrenaline rush from the bear cub encounter passes, and we notice the rain is slowing down. The sun starts to push away the cloud cover and finally the day starts to look like a beautiful day for paddling.

We are the furthest from home on the second day of the canoe trip.  Tomorrow we will begin to paddle back towards civilization. But today, it’s just us and the dogs. We don’t see anyone else all day and paddle in quiet contentment.

Lunch today is in the canoe, and we snack on dried mangoes, peanuts and raisins. We share some Baby Belle cheese with the dogs, but only a taste!  The last thing we need on a canoe are upset  stomachs!

We make amazing time in afternoon, and begin to look for some possible campsites for the evening.   One site looks promising, and we pull in to scope it out.  There’s a bit of a sandbar to land the canoe on, rare in this part of the country. When I step out of the canoe, I notice there are dog prints on the sand.  This must be an excellent spot for dogs, if someone has already been here and using it with their dogs.  I complete a quick scan for broken glass and find some dog poop.  “Gross,” I thought, and I bent to clean it up. Suddenly, I notice this was not dog poop at all… it’s wolf!  Wolf poop looks very similar to dog poop, but often has the hair of the animals they eat in it. Wolves often leave their poop in the middle of trails, as to marking their territory.

canoeing-with-dogs-p-3-2Wolves are very shy and stay away from people. This wild animal depends on its stealth and speed for safety.  They believe in running away from a problem, before it becomes a problem.  So the wolves knew we were there long before I was aware of them. Wolves view dogs as intruders in their territory, and may attack or kill dog running loose – another good reason to keep your dog on the leash. In addition, if your off-leash dog does run into a wolf or a bear, your dog will, in all likelihood, coming running back to you for help. And that may not end so well.

We decided the wolf poop, and the wolves that made it, were too close for comfort and we went to paddle to another spot.  As it was getting later in the day, we settled for an island with a high rock outcropping.  The island was mostly bare, save for a few trees.  A quick scan of the island showed there was no broken glass and there was a suitably flat spot to pitch the tent. As well, it was on a large area of soft moss, we would be sleeping well tonight in a soft bed.

After dinner, we let the dogs romp around the island and burn off their energy.  They played their version of tag, where the dog that’s “It” bites the other dog’s neck to tag tag them, and then run away fast before the other two grab you. I wonder if this game was inspired by the wolves.

When they tied of that game, it was time for a three-way Tug-of-War. I am not sure the rules of the game, but I think the dog who gets the biggest piece of the broken stick at the end wins, and then gets chased by the other dogs.

We settled into the tent just as the sun was starting to go down.  Nothing wrong with going to bed early – you don’t want to be outside when the mosquitoes come out!  That night we could hear the wolves howling across the lake. With each call, the dogs edged a little closer to us.  Sometime in the middle of the night, I woke up to find River lying right on my back! I’m not sure if she was protecting me or snuggling up for security. Either way, it was the perfect way to close our second day of canoeing.

The last day of the journey is up next, as we head back home after an eventful trip.

 


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